September 30, 2010

M on M: My Life So Far

We caught up with Marina, also known as ‘M’, for an exclusive one-on-one interview a few days before she turned five months old. We wanted to ask how her life was unfolding; how her skin keeps that youthful glow; how she stays centered amid a busy schedule; and what it is like to hang with her famous older sister. At the interview M was wearing a variation on her usual uniform — snap-button shirt speckled with formula residue puke, stained white diaper — and her mannish short hair in disarray. She was radiant, and we love her more and more with each passing day.

What is your personal style?
I favor busy-looking bodysuits with easy snap-button closures for quick diaper changes. I like to mix new clothes — usually gifts — with items handed down from my older sister, the fabulous Lady E. Right now I’m really into a mix of different styles and periods, with a tendency toward the frumpy. It's easy to dress casually wherever I go. I don't want it any other way.

How is your social life?
Well, I am still single (laughs). Y’know, I’m sleeping a lot better these days, so I’ve been more attentive to my relationships with the people around me. I spend my time wailing for food, pooping, or just watching the world go by. No stress is the goal. People are fascinating.

How's infanthood treating you?
I have a very quiet, happy, simple life. I lay there most of the time, but I’ve been attempting to turn over. Recently, I’m totally into discovering the world of objects, developing my sense of space, form and texture. I’m into this whole life thing, big-time.

What’s it like working with your older sister.  Is she excited to have you around?
Frankly, there have been some personal space and attention issues. She wasn't overjoyed with my presence at first, but we are working on it together. With some time and compromises, we’ve found a middle ground where we can both get along.

You’re turning five months old. How does that make you feel?
Many tots of a certain age dread the idea of getting older. But I’m OK with it. I am proud of what I've accomplished and what I've done with my life so far. I feel empowered.

What is your favorite thing these days?
I can suck my toes.

Do you stay cool under pressure?
For the most part I think I'm okay under pressure. Sometimes the things that irk me are very trivial. I'll lose my cool because I can't grasp my teether, which is embarrassing and stupid. I mean, come on motor skills…

How do you stay looking so good?
I work out. I eat whatever I want, but nobody seems to attack me for gaining weight.

Cloth or Pampers?
Actually, I’m into this local diaper called ‘Merries’ at the moment. Light, nice cut, wrinkle-resistant: this brand hits all the right notes. When I’m traveling I’ll settle for Pampers in a pinch.

Anything about yourself you would change if you could?
I’m fine with my own body image because I reject society’s objectification of the female form. So, yeah, I’m a little political. Aside from that personal weltanschauung, I do have some drooling issues right now, but I’m told they go away with time.

On dieting:
I've gained about four kilos over the last four months, which, for a small person, is a lot. But I think it's not good to diet – so I just cry a lot and keep on sucking down the milk. Just find the perfect balance. Highlight what you consider the positive parts of your body and camouflage the parts you don't like.

Any thoughts on your career going forward?
I’m working on sitting upright right now. Eventually, though, I would like to direct.

Any words of wisdom for the other infants out there?
Babble to yourself and do not be ashamed of it. Talk to your toys, for they have the wisdom of the ages embedded in the plastic. Listen to William Shatner and Henry Rollins recording “I Can’t Get Behind That.” It will change your life.

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September 19, 2010

Modeling Lady E.

Elena got her first job a few weeks ago as an international supermodel. To be more precise, the international element is that she is bicultural and has two nationalities. Also, we always consider her a super kid, and the fact is her first job was modeling for a local hotel’s promotional brochure. In this post, I’ll take you into the story behind the modeling gig—an insider’s look into kiddie modeling.
In late August, friends asked us if we would like to give Elena a chance to pose for pictures for a glossy brochure to promote a local hotel that specializes in weddings. Naomi thought: ‘why not?’ Meanwhile, I had visions of millions of yen rolling in. So we saw no harm in her trying something new and exciting. Why can’t our kid be one of those adorable little models hawking clothes or cars or, in this case, the dream wedding? Thank God Elena got a great amount of good DNA from Naomi, I thought.

On the day of the photo shoot, the Rising Family™ geared up in the morning and drove to the hotel, where the dresser and makeup artist were waiting. Elena immediately threw a temper tantrum and refused to wear any of the cute dresses on hand. Not a good start.

Once our friends arrived with their daughter, Lady E. settled down. Peer pressure, dear readers, is a great thing sometimes. She finally agreed to put on a dress, got her makeup done (another first), and then the photographer came into the room. He was clever; clearly, he wanted to establish a rapport with the girls, see their disposition, and make sure they could interact with the photography team. Somehow, our temperamental little tot passed the test. Time to start shooting the pictures.
The first scene was the grand staircase in the hotel lobby. The stylist arranged the dresses, the makeup artist dabbed some powder on the girls’ faces and smiled reassuringly, and then the photography began. The high-energy photo team was very good at keeping the girls’ attention focused on or near the camera, and the photographer began to click away. The team was fun but professional: they called out, persuaded, and occasionally enlisted our help in keeping the girls focused.  Each scene took about 60 minutes of preparation for each half-hour of shooting. Once the photographer was satisfied he had the perfect smile framed by the right image, we all moved on to the next location in the hotel and repeated the process.
Elena showed uncharacteristic poise, and of course, the resident ham in her came out with the right kind of cajoling from the photo team. I was genuinely surprised at how quickly she obeyed her instructions from the handlers, although they were often delivered in a soft and cunning way, with the bribe of snack breaks. Most of the time, the girls delivered radiant smiles on cue. As the day wore on, there were bouts of impatience, tears and occasional boredom.
The day flew by and, before we knew it, it was a wrap. Our experience as the parents/managers of our ‘talent’ was great: I demanded all the red M&Ms be removed from the bowl or “we would walk, babe.” Nah, just kidding. It was just a fun experience in kiddie couture that we likely would not be repeating anytime soon. One thing I learned is that the Rising Daughter #1 really does know the camera and she has the composure of a professional model…when she wants to. Why doesn’t that kind of self-control ever happen at home?